I want to go back to atheists and their statistically superior morals, and to that study on altruism in religious children I covered three days ago. Let’s start with science and why it is so successful.
First let me reiterate yesterday’s point – all success comes from following sādhana, meaning voluntarily submitting oneself to a process and telling your mind to shut up about it. Once you learn to follow the rules and get enough practice you are bound to succeed, and it’s the only way to the top.
There are various special circumstances like past karma or apparent absence of authorities in case of pioneer work and these can muddle the picture but past karma gets accumulated according to the same rules, and pioneers never attribute their success to themselves, to them it comes naturally, they just find themselves at the right time in the right place and things fall into place so that they don’t have to agonize over how and what to do. It’s like explanations on how to become rich – it just happens, and mostly by luck. “Rise early, work hard, and strike oil,” as the famous quote goes.
Next, we expect atheists to fall flat on their face so that we can claim superiority of religion and relying on God instead of one’s puny brainpower. It doesn’t happen often enough and rather the opposite is true. Atheists keep advancing science and making world a better place, and thus proving their vitality. We can point out at the shaky foundation of their custom build world, global warming or population decline, but these things are not obvious to people.
Science works in their daily lives while global warming is something they see discussed on TV, and population decline is very hard to accept when we are constantly told to worry about overpopulation instead. Most people would give more value to easy to see proofs of science than contemplate long and hard the long term effects, it’s just how human nature works, that’s why life here is called an illusion.
Why does it work for them, though? Shouldn’t God blow them to smithereens for their atheism and degrading behavior? Shouldn’t they go to the darkest regions of hell, as said in our scriptures? This is where it gets complicated.
They are not as atheistic as we make them to be. They might openly reject God and that’s a punishable offense, but most of the time they are ambivalent to religions, the subject doesn’t come up and offenses aren’t being made. Take the historical case of Hiraṇyakaśipu who escaped punishment until he tried to lay his hands on Prahlāda. He was openly inimical to Viṣṇu but the Lord didn’t take his offenses personally, stepping in only for the sake of His devotee.
Kṛṣṇa is a well wisher of all living beings, He doesn’t punish them for being “free thinkers”. He is a person, however, so He might take it personally, but normally He is far too cool to react to our childish tantrums. There’s a long way to go before our tantrums become truly offensive – just look at the chapter on demoniac nature in Bhagavad Gītā. It took Kṛṣṇa ten verses, 7-16, to describe step by step their path to hell, and another three verses to come to the point where their envy of the Lord becomes personally offensive to Him.
Look at where it starts from, in verse 7: “Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done.” This is not true of the current breed of atheists yet. It’s been only a couple of decades since they started manufacturing their own way of life (feminism, gay rights etc.) while all their achievements are due to work they had done earlier. The effects of things like gay marriage will take decades to manifest and even longer to affect the rest of the society. Feminism started earlier and people are already questioning whether it makes women happier and the society stronger.
Neither of these affect material progress directly and in that area people, however atheistic, still do what is prescribed by the authorities. They do not create their own rocket science, so to speak, but follow the process that has been followed for centuries. They might lay claims but they didn’t invent the scientific method, nor did they invent logic. Look what they ascribe their success to – strictly following reason and logic, being honest and truthful in their pursuit, and going along with the laws of nature.
Nothing in this method is offensive to the Lord and there’s nothing here that we would have done differently if we practiced science ourselves. Atheists somehow don’t get it but religion is not an obstacle to their material science, it has been advanced by openly religious people for centuries. The Inquisition might have stood in the way and be used as an example of religion hampering scientific progress but the progress was still pushed by religious scientists.
The point is that scientific method MUST produce results because it fits with Lord’s instructions on how to behave in the material world – utilize your intelligence and don’t lie. Atheistic or not, they must get rewards for doing that.
I should also note that properly applying scientific method requires great discipline and it implies controlling one’s mind and base materialistic urges. A true scientist must be free from bias, he should not falsify his results for money or fame, nor should he be driven by envy. He must have a cool head and always be rational, not letting human emotions lead him away.
We don’t normally say it and they never acknowledge it, but science is jñāna yoga in its essence. Advaitins require twelve years of grammar study before one gets to expound Vedānta, science requires even longer before one gets to practice it on his own. Vedic learning must also be done under the guidance of a guru. Science requires people to write their dissertations under the guidance of a mentor, too. We have a set of rules regarding personal conduct and students are supposed to lead clean lives as well. Gambling and drinking always ruin academic careers.
They think they’ve discovered some unique path to success but this same method has been practiced for thousands of years, and as long as they follow it they will get good results regardless of whether they are atheistic or not, that’s just the law of the universe laid out by Kṛṣṇa.
Real atheism starts when they invent their own ways. It’s been happening, too, but the cases they shove in our cases, like modern medicine, have all been done according to the tradition. I mean doctor or pilot training is so reliable precisely because they follow the authorities better than anyone else.
And then they compare these trained doctors to some charlatans selling colored glass to cure cancer. Yes, it doesn’t look well for religion, but charlatans are charlatans and should be compared not to doctors but to peddlers of snake oil. Apples to apples, oranges to oranges.
Once again, lots of modern atheists are not as atheistic as they claim to be, they still know the rules and follow them very strictly, and rules are set by the Lord.